Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sanctuary

Go through his open gates with great thanksgiving; enter his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation. (Psalm 100:4-5 TLB)

Those gates are open! Open gates differ from shut ones in that one beckons to enter in - the other tells us we'd be trespassing if we did! I live in a neighborhood with six foot block walls all around the yards and gates that are either locked shut, or whose hinges just don't swing open all that often. The image given is that each one who makes this neighborhood their home appreciates (and even demands) their privacy. "No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief." (John Calvin)
Entering in requires movement from where we are to within those gates. It means we leave behind something in order to move into something which is different, and maybe even a little "unknown". It could just be you have been considering moving beyond the gates Jesus has opened wide and entering into this newness of life he has provided for all who would enter. If so, then I'd have to ask what is keeping you out? You aren't going to experience what is beyond those gates until you take that first step within!
I recently had a yard sale and it was a big one because three families contributed to it. The sale required I open up some of my backyard for those who would browse the goodies we had on sale. That meant some who normally wouldn't get to view the inner sanctuary of my backyard got a firsthand view. I received many a comment about how pretty and peaceful it was. I have tried to create a nice place for mom to sit out and enjoy the warmth of the sun. I have invited the birds by planting the types of things that encourage them. I even keep grass green year round so as to make it even more inviting. In general, it is a form of a "sanctuary".
A sanctuary is a place of refuge. The inner portions of the churches came to be referred to as sanctuaries because they were to be places those who sought "relief" and "comfort" could enter into and find it. It was the place around the altar - the place of sacrifice that was referred to the most often as the "sanctuary". Isn't that kind of interesting that the place of sacrifice came to be known as the place of sanctuary? The cross is actually the "key" that opened the gate into this place of sanctuary - of refuge and of rest! 
While we may ponder entering - it is only when we actually find ourselves squarely inside that we begin to realize the tremendous blessing of "sanctuary". May you enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! May you know sanctuary! Just prayin!